By Sister Sharon Havelak, OSF
Advent seems a bit more poignant this year.
It’s usually a difficult season anyway, caught in the tension between the end of the civic year and the beginning of the Church year. It most often ends up just a hectic advance of the Christmas season.
But it just feels different this year. Unsettled.
Part of it may be the wild temperature swings. (50o in northwest Ohio in December! Really?) Part of it may be the never-ending political controversies. And I would guess that virus-weariness plays a great part. We’re tired of staying home. We’re tired of Zoom. We want some hugs!
As we wait for the vaccine, I’m coming to understand a little more the longing of the ancient Israelites for their Savior. The patient/impatient expectation. The deep-rooted hope that keeps on looking forward. And yet, the fear of what it might cost.
In my first blog of 2020, I shared my New Year’s Resolution: simply to be happy, to live with contentment and gratitude, to find the light in each situation, no matter how dark. I embraced that resolution with a bit of trepidation; it would be too easy (and too tempting?) for God to test me on it. I didn’t expect the whole world to be tested!
But through the difficulties of the year, I came to find unexpected blessings. Who knew that sewing face masks could be so contemplative? I – and so many others – found refuge outside, reconnecting with nature. We found creative ways to visit, to celebrate our milestones. We shared our wealth in big and little ways and were touched and inspired by stories of incredible acts of kindness. Despite our sadness and fears (or, perhaps, because of them), we were able to find our deep connectedness.
And so this unsettled Advent is simply part of a 10-month advent longing – for hope and healing, for belonging to each other, waiting in anticipation for the God who is coming, even as we are surprised by the God who is present among us now. Bittersweet as the coming Christmas season may be, even as we long to hug family and friends, may we find comfort in the small blessings around us and the sure knowledge of God’s loving care.